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A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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"What emerges from this book is the portrait of a thoroughly nice woman. Her exceptional qualities have led her to achievements that her readers can scarcely imagine. But she still remains touchingly connected to that ordinary girl from Norfolk. It's a winning combination."
---Jane Shilling, The Daily Mail
"What amazes me about Chrissie Wellington is not that she wins, but by how much...Like Usain Bolt, Wellington has burst on to the scene and destroyed the opposition. Those within athletics said that Bolt was coming but Wellington came from nowhere and wins by a relatively greater margin."
---James Cracknell, two time Olympic gold medalist, and adventurer
"Empowering and suitably commemorative."
About the Author
Chrissie Wellington is a quadruple World Ironman Champion (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011). Prior to her athletic career, she worked for the UK Government (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Defra) as an advisor on international development policy.
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All that being said, I was waiting with Shakespeare's famous bated breath for Chrissie's book, and after reading it I'm even more admiring of the ordinary girl from Norfolk than I was. We all suspected she was an ordinary human, despite a triathlon career befitting a Marvel costumed character, and reading her telling of her own tale is inspirational, exciting, sometimes shocking, and completely compelling. Yes, she had what seemed to be hidden talents, but this is a driven woman, and she enjoys the drive. Her encouragement to always look beyond your perceived limits is truly inspiring, but also shows wisdom. Nothing can be accomplished if it is not attempted, and Chrissie Wellington's story is one of a person willing to make attempts without accepting any limitations. This might not even work for everyone, but it's a grand book to read about someone who did it and succeeded beyond what anyone thought was possible. Certainly in the triathlon world there is only one Chrissie Wellington and there is likely to only ever be one. Bravo to Chrissie for writing such an honest and heartfelt life story at such a relatively young age.
To say Chrissie Wellington is an enigma would befoul her. She is someone who is not capable of being described in one word. What pushes her is the central struggle of this book.
What seems to push her is a figure in her life that never showed her much emotion. Her first coach, Brett Sutton, a controversial figure in endurance sports, never seemed to really show her the reactions she was looking for. He kept her on the bottom rung as he did with all his athletes. He is incapable of attending her races, and instead of rejoicing in her accomplishments, he focuses in on his payments. Having a coach like that can be a great distraction from real purpose.
Ms. Wellington opens up about her struggle with eating disorders; this shows that an athlete who presents as bulletproof in races fights demons within. While I do not agree with her advice on treatment of eating disorders (to eventually snap out of it), she does present a topic that could have been conveniently left out of publication. In the end she does make a recommendation for those suffering from eating disorders to seek treatment, however I do not think the message was as loud as it should have been.
The real purpose of this book was to see what Ms. Wellington endures while competing in the ultra-distance races. Specifically, what did Ms. Wellington endure in her last championship in Hawaii. After she had crashed her bike within two weeks of Kona leaving her with severe road rash, and to have partially torn a pectoral muscle a week before the race during a swim workout, Chrissie Wellington lets us in on the suffering she managed to overcome to triumphantly return to the top of the podium as World Champion. Anyone who watched the race live can remember her not only mowing through the field to return to the lead, but she still had her quintessential (and trademark) smile that provides inspiration to countless triathletes.
I feel this book is worth the read. The one downside is her constant switching from first person to second person. One would assume she either has a ghost writer or she enters competition mode whilst writing this book. The use of the second person narrative seems to detract from the focus of the book at times. But it is her candid voice that helps her audience understand who she is. Who is Chrissie Wellington? She is a four-time Ironman World Champion who was never beaten at the ultra distance. She has taken a sabbatical from triathlon competition, departing while at the top of her sport. One could hope that she stays retired and leaves her unbeaten streak intact. In the meantime, this work serves as a great model for many weekend athletes who look for inspiration to fight toward a goal worth attaining.